Thursday, April 9, 2009

Psychology and "Enchantment"

I think that saying modern games lack "enchantment" is nonsense.  Trying to compare a game that you look at with educated, experienced eyes, after 20 years of role-playing with the game picked up when you were ten is not worthwile, because you are a totally different person than you were.

When we started playing, we played the rules as we understood them. We messed with them, sure, but that's it, at first. We were enchanted with it because it was new and cool and we were in control of it.  We felt that feeling of enchantment, but it didn't have much of anything to do with the system, it had more to do with who you were.

In the book "Happiness" the author writes about how human being anticipate and remember. We expect things to be better than they are. And we remember them as being better than they were. That's how our brains work. Which brings me to the bad news:

The bad news is - you cannot get that feeling back. Not ever. Blaming systems because they don't evoke the same feeling of enchantment you felt is like blaming your wife of 20 years because you don't feel that same rush of passion you felt when you first met. I've sat in recently with teenagers who are just starting RPG's, playing D&D. And guess what - they are enchanted - just like we were with 1e or red box or whatever.  

Blaming systems or designers is ridiculous. Blame yourself - blame your memory, blame all the years you played and all the different games. Time makes enchantment go away, time and experience. Play 1e or OSRIC or whatever makes you happy, but be aware of why it does - because of the connection it makes you feel with that old feeling of enchantment. Now if only those darn kids would stop changing things...